What is a Sauna Experience?

Saunas in Melbourne are becoming increasingly popular. Especially as we’re spending more time at home during the pandemic, and really starting to learn more about the beauty of at-home relaxation, wellness and self-care. So now, as more and more people are installing a home sauna in Melbourne, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to delve deeper – and take a look at what a sauna experience is really all about.

What is a home sauna?

First things first. What exactly is a home sauna? A home steam sauna is a domestic version of an authentic and traditional Finnish or Swedish sauna that uses a heater to produce steam. It’s not to be confused with an infrared sauna. While infrared saunas are available around the world, these installations work in a very different way. They use infrared wavelengths to generate heat within the body, leaving the room itself relatively cool. Traditional Nordic saunas, on the other hand, heat the room so that you can really experience the numerous health benefits of steam. While infrared saunas are good alternatives for those who find traditional saunas too hot, they lack the long-standing tradition that makes steam saunas so special. Taking a sauna has been a huge part of Nordic culture for thousands of years. In fact, the first saunas in Finland are thought to have been dug into the ground over the winter, to create a warm place to escape from the icy cold weather above.

The sauna experience

If you ask 10 different people with an at-home sauna what the sauna experience is all about, you’ll probably get 10 different answers! Generally, a sauna experience will include three 15-minute sessions, with a cool-down period between each session. This is to ensure you get the maximum benefits from the steam, without overheating. A sauna experience is customisable, so you can create your own sauna experience, exactly as you like it… The correct temperature? That’s 100% personal. Some people prefer their at-home sauna to be very hot. Others like it softer and more humid; being a traditional wet sauna. We typically advise beginners to start with a comfortable temperature, and work their way up. Your body will always tell you what’s right. What you do inside your sauna is also completely up to you. Most people like to sit down and relax, unwinding after a busy day. But there’s also a huge trend for sauna yoga, too, so it’s really up to you! Aromatherapy is another way you can customise your sauna experience. We like to add a different essential oil to each of the three sessions to create new sensory experiences every time. Different oils all have different qualities and characteristics, affecting the body in various ways. Lavender oil, for example, is believed to help promote a good night’s sleep, while lemon oil is more uplifting and invigorating. Even the after-sauna experience can be tailored to your own needs. Some people like to take a lukewarm shower afterwards, while others prefer to jump in the backyard pool, or set the shower to the coldest possible temperature. This is known as cold therapy. The shock of going from the high heat of the sauna to the coldness of the water kicks the body’s sympathetic nervous system into action. This releases a whole host of hormones that help to reduce stress and create these incredible feelings of total euphoria.

Why are saunas so popular?

You’re probably wondering why so many people are working to build their perfect sauna experience. And the answer is simple. A good sauna experience isn’t just about luxury. It can actually deliver a wide range of health benefits, helping the body to keep working just as it should. Wellness is at the core of a sauna experience. Research has found that saunas can:
  • Positively impact mental health: Taking a sauna is linked to improved mental health and wellbeing – the heat from the steam can encourage the body to secrete ‘feel good’ chemicals that fight depression. It’s not at all surprising that Finland was crowned the happiest nation in the world – for the fourth consecutive year – in the United Nations World Happiness Report for 2021.
  • Promote a good night’s sleep: The high heat from a sauna causes the body’s internal temperature to rise. Afterwards, to bring body temperature back to normal, the body needs to work hard and focus on this readjustment, shutting down less essential functions and making you feel tired. Studies have found the sleepy effects of a sauna can last for one to two nights.
  • Fight off illness: Heat can stimulate the production of illness-fighting white blood cells. This can build a stronger and more resilient immune system that’s well-prepared to tackle common viruses and bacteria. While saunas may not be able to ward off every illness, they can definitely help to minimise the risk of catching those annoying common colds that are floating around.
  • Create a healthy glow: Steam opens up the skin’s natural pores, making it easier to clean out every-day dirt and grime that can clog them and increase the risk of acne. Research has also found that taking a sauna can increase the skin’s water-holding capacity to boost moisture, improve the skin barrier function to reduce moisture loss, and minimise sebum production.
Ultimately, the biggest overall health benefit is simply ‘saunanjalkeinen’. That’s the Finnish word translating to ‘post-sauna’, and describes that incredible feeling you get after a sauna experience.

Create your own sauna experience

As you can see, sauna users really can choose their own path, and create a personalised sauna experience that really works for them. So, if you’re thinking about a home sauna in Australia but aren’t too sure about the ‘protocol’, don’t worry! Your sauna experience can be anything you want it to be.